Salminen, S., & Liukkonen, J. (1996). Coach-athlete relationship and coaching behavior in training sessions. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 27, 59-67.

The coach-athlete relationship and observed coaching behaviors were studied in 68 Finnish coaches and their 400 athletes. The relationship was measured by comparing coaches' and athletes' evaluations of coaches' leadership styles with the Leadership Scale for Sports. Video recordings of coaching behaviors were categorized according to an established observation schedule.

Coaches evaluated themselves as more socially supportive, rewarding, and instruction-providing and less democratic and autocratic than athletes rated them. The evaluations of female coaches about their democracy and autocracy were significantly nearer athletes' evaluations than those of male coaches. Individual sport evaluations were closer than those of team sports.

Reported behaviors were both negatively and positively related to observed behaviors. Coaches' affective behavior and monitoring were negatively related to training, instruction, and democratic behavior. Negative feedback was related to autocratic behavior. When coaches' and athletes' ratings of training and instruction differed, the coaches' behavior was more emotional and negative. The more affective the coaches' behavior, the more different are coaches' and athletes' ratings of the social support and rewarding behaviors.

Democratic coaching behaviors (attending to the opinions and emotions of athletes) were shown to have the best relationship with athletes' evaluations.

Implication. How a coach attends to the opinions and emotions of athletes appears to be the best predictor of the coach-athlete relationship.

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